Championing Private Enterprise

Michael Mescon found success in the boxing ring and in academic circles

At age 77 and still recovering from a near fatal accident, Michael Howard Mescon remains a highly sought-after speaker. But you cannot get him for money alone.

He will not speak anywhere unless he is in close proximity to a running track, weight room, bicycle track or swimming pool. The fee is important to Mescon, but not as important as his health.

Mescon, who retired from Georgia State University in 1991, is dean emeritus of its College of Business Administration, now the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. He held the Bernard B. and Eugenia A. Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise, the first such chair established – it is now a part of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

Mescon is world renowned for his belief in private enterprise as the best opportunity for growth, success and personal satisfaction. (A lot of people agree with me that he should have been named president at the school when Dr. Noah H. Langdale retired.)

He received his PhD from New York University and his M.Ed and A.B. from the University of Miami. He holds honorary doctorates from the College of Charleston and The Citadel.

Mescon is the author or co-author of more than 300 articles and books, including Business Today, the most successful introductory business textbook in America. The book also is published in Spanish and Russian.

He founded The Mescon Group, an organizational design consulting firm, which was acquired in 2001 by the accounting firm Habif, Arogeti & Wynne. Mescon’s advice is still sought after by organizations, including nonprofits, government groups, trade associations and corporate giants.

But Mescon is hardly all brains and no brawn. While getting his two degrees in three and one-half years at the University of Miami, he earned a spot on the boxing team. When he was in school in the 1940s, Miami’s boxing team was a perennial contender for the NCAA championship.

Don’t believe Mescon doesn’t have time for all his many activities. It’s easy when you get out of bed at 3:30 a.m. At Georgia State, he used to beat the milkman to work and sometimes didn’t leave until after the night watchman was gone.

And what did Mescon always try to drive home to his students? “Show up for work and show up on time. And serve the customer above and beyond the call.”

Mescon has practiced what he preaches all his life. Before he was in high school he was a busboy at Wolfie's Delicatessen in Miami Beach; you either got there on time or got fired. When he was attending Miami Beach High School he spent his summers working as a cabana attendant at the upscale Shelborne Hotel.

Mescon was born in Toronto, where his parents operated a floor covering business. They moved the business to Charleston where it was more lucrative and then to Miami Beach where the hotel business was booming and so was the need for floor covering.

The whole Mescon family is successful. While Mescon was studying at NYU, his wife, Enid Minsk Mescon, was bringing home the bacon as a fulltime rep with McFadden Publi-cations. She later earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree herself.

Their son Tim, 53, is dean of the Coles College of Business at Kenne-saw State University; son Jed, 47, is the morning news anchor for the NBC station in Chattanooga; and daughter Nance, 50, is a paralegal with an Atlanta law firm.

These days, when he can get all his family together – which is rare – they enjoy family meals, working out in the gym at Mescon’s Atlanta condo, swimming and batting the softball.

Truthfully, Mike and Enid are lucky to be alive. Two years ago they were driving to a party in Savannah. They never made it. About 30 miles west of Savannah they hit an oil slick and their SUV flipped over. They were pinned inside and had to be pried out. Each had a fractured neck; and they were rushed to the hospital. The Mescons still wear braces and still experience pain.

“We realize how lucky we are,” Mescon says. “We could be dead. Every night we thank God we are alive, not bed-ridden or chair-ridden, that we can walk, talk and hear. We have no complaints, only thanks.”

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